At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jack in the Box wasted no time on social media, creating the hashtag #StayInTheBox to keep up spirits while encouraging people to stay home. As the quarantine dragged on, Jack in the Box developed an opportunity for high school seniors to experience prom—virtually.

The brand’s #PromInTheBox campaign took place on May 9. The hour-long event featured music by DJs Dillon Francis and Diplo and amassed more than 6,000 views—a 355 percent increase in views from the brand’s previous Instagram Live campaign.

With the success of #PromInTheBox, Jack in the Box chief brand and experience officer Adrienne Ingoldt offers tips for those who want to utilize the power of live streaming, especially as more people live vicariously through their screens.

Build a reputation before going live

The foundations for a successful live-streamed prom were set long before COVID times, as Jack in the Box had a strong social media presence across all of its channels. The brand’s use of Instagram Live made sense, as consumers were already aware of the chain’s social media repertoire.

“I think we had a good foundation, a good solid social media presence and relationship with consumers prior to the pandemic, which set us up for success,” Ingoldt says.

The brand even invested in the live­streaming community years prior, as it had sponsored gamers on the streaming platform Twitch. Still, the brand sensed a shift in media consumption and focused on the streaming space.

“Our job as marketers was to train consumers that sheltering at home means that you can go back to the food you love,” Ingoldt says. “As we’ve navigated through the pandemic, it was really important that we continue to connect with consumers where it made sense to them.”

This shift included moving away from outdoor billboards and morning radio to the digital space, where Ingoldt says consumers are increasingly turning as a form of entertainment.

Encourage engagement—and utilize it

Live streaming differs from other forms of social media because brands need to sustain engagement over a period of time. Jack in the Box kept its audience entertained by using the hashtag #PromInTheBox throughout the night. The brand also had specific themed GIPHY stickers for its audience.

The chain tuned in to its largely Gen Z audience demographic by inviting TikTok stars like Sofia Wylie and Jalaiah Harmon to make appearances. “Streaming platforms and content gives them a chance to feel that sense of being in the moment. So I think we’ll continue to see high usage from a consumer base in those live events and live moments,” Ingoldt says.

Offscreen, Jack in the Box showed its audience that these campaigns weren’t just for face, partnering with floral and clothing companies to serve two Los Angeles high schools. The brand gave each of the high schools private rooms, while allowing everyone else to view the event’s public main room.

These efforts at authentic connection kept the brand an integral part of the night. Jack in the Box then provided deals for its audience to act upon and share the sense of connection. Ingoldt recalls tiny taco deliveries being a hit for viewers during the event.

“Because it’s a live stream on Instagram and Twitch, we were able to share the moment more broadly,” Ingoldt says.

Use live streams as a way to fill the consumer need for connection

Ingoldt says social media outreach is becoming more important as consumers want real-life connections during the pandemic. COVID-19’s disruption of daily life is taking consumers to their devices, where live streams are providing them with a sense of normalcy.

According to game-streaming analytics Stream Hatchet, Twitch reached all-time highs in number of hours watched and hours streamed in Q1 of 2020. This encourages innovation in the live-streaming space, which Jack in the Box is ready to explore.

“[Live streaming] was always part of our social strategy,” Ingoldt says. “Now, as it has continued to evolve, we’re testing some new promotions of influencers, really working on sort of what we can do from a chat ordering perspective, and overall beefing up our presence on the platform.”

Consumer Trends, Fast Food, Story, Jack in the Box